Does Game of Thrones marginalize people of color in its casting? David Oyelowo thinks so.
Talking to radiotimes.com, the Queen of Katwe actor said that actors of color on the award-winning HBO show only have roles on the periphery of the show’s storylines – never at the forefront.
“The fact that they put any ethnic minorities in that means that there should be space for bigger characters," he said. "Because you're not just saying, 'OK this is purely a white world, and here are very story-driven reasons why that's the case.'"
Currently, the most prominent non-white actors include Daenerys' army general Grey Worm (played by Jacob Anderson) and her translator Missandei (played by Nathalie Emmanuel).
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"Even if for whatever reason, it's a world in which people of color in those stories are subservient, or they are more in a helper role, that doesn't mean they can't have prominent storylines. All you have to do is shift the focus to focus on those characters. So for me, there is absolutely no excuse in a show like that why there aren't more prominent characters of color," Oyelowo continued.
When asked by a black female fan about the lack of main characters of color in 2014, Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin explained that the historical constraints of the time period, despite the fantasy in his work, forced him to make white people the focal point of his story.
“Westeros around 300 AC is nowhere near as diverse as 21st century America, of course … but with that being said, I do have some ‘characters of color’ who will have somewhat larger roles in The Winds of Winter,” he said. “Admittedly, these are secondary and tertiary characters, though not without importance.”
Game of Thrones is one of TV’s most watched shows, with 25 million total viewers this year across all platforms.